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Florian V. Mueller, Reykjavik University & Innovation Center Iceland & CEMEX Research
Group AG, Switzerland
Olafur H. Wallevik, Reykjavik University & Innovation Center Iceland, Iceland

36th Conference on OUR WORLD IN CONCRETE & STRUCTURES: 14 - 16 August 2011,


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36th Conference on Our World in Concrete & Structures
Singapore, August 14-16, 2011



Florian V. Mueller1,2 and Olafur H. Wallevik1

ICI Rheocenter, Reykjavik University & Innovation Center Iceland

Menntavegur 1, 101 Reykjavík. Iceland

Keywords: Particle packing, Gyratory ICT, Eco-SCC

Abstract. Based on compaction with shear impact through gyratory inclination, the
compactability of several different, systematically varied particle size distributions
was investigated and the particle packing analysed. It is shown that by conventional
concrete mix design methods, PSD according to the Fuller & Thompson curve
results in significantly lower solid concentration than a PSD according to the, by
Funk & Dinger modified, Andreasen & Anderson model, after a similar consolidation
work has been applied. The choice model should favour a PSD that minimizes the
paste volume required as lubricant for the aggregates that yields self-compacting
properties in concrete with good blocking behaviour and activates the particle lattice
effect against static sedimentation. Such PSD would be recommendable for the
aggregate gradation of low binder SCC, i.e. Eco-SCC.

The work presented here is part of an extensive research project in progress at the Innovation
Center Iceland (ICI). The aim is to determine the range of the influencing mix design parameters that
results in self-compacting concrete, but with binder content comparable to that which is customary in
conventional concrete, i.e. about 315 kg/m binder material, equivalent to about 10% (based on pure
CEM / or Type 1 cement) of volume of the concrete. Here, OPC and SCM as well as inert filler
materials that are allowed in composite cements according to EN 197 are included (i.e. limestone
filler), according to our definition in [1].
It is widely recognized that the design of high performance concrete, such as self-compacting
concrete, requires advanced particle packing methods in order to optimize the mix design, see for
instance [2, 3, 4, 5, and 6]. The optimization usually aims at accomplishing a desired workability
together with a minimum paste volume. Strength optimization can be an additional requirement for
special applications. Early approaches to optimize the mix design of conventional vibrated concrete
(CVC) were made already in the beginning of the 20 century. Numerous attempts have been made
since then to optimize the mixes regarding density, strength and workability, see for instance
Anderegg [7], Bolomey [8 and 9], Ferét [10], Furnas [11 and 12], Graf [13], and Talbot et al. [14], but
in concrete industry, one of the greatest impact was the work of Fuller and Thompson [15]. Even
though they did not exactly define the (today commonly known as) Fuller-curve for aggregates, (later
interpreted by Andreasen and Anderson [3]) to the form known today, their description of the

ICI Rheocenter, Reykjavik University & Innovation Center Iceland
CEMEX Research Group AG, Switzerland
F.V. Mueller and O.H. Wallevik

curvature of a graph representing the densest particle size distribution became one of the most cited,
and is still often adhered to in design of conventional vibrated concrete (CVC).

Table 0-1: Different approaches to equations for optimal (i.e. densest) aggregate gradation

Fuller &
Thompson [15]

Andreasen &
Andersen [3] 0.25  
Bolomey (in [17])  ! 100 !
#  ⁄

$ %8,14)

Funk & Dinger  * +

[22]  * +

From these early approaches, only Bolomey included a constant (A) directly related to the particle
shape. For the other approaches, the influence of particle shape on compactability is described by the
exponent q, the packing distribution modulus.
From the work of Kennedy [18] and Krell [19], one may conclude that the flowability of self-
compacting concrete is obtained by the excess paste volume that acts as lubricant between the
particles in the aggregates’ granular skeleton. Any granular skeleton would experience an expansion
when sufficient paste volume is added to allow internal movements in the fresh concrete. When the
granular skeleton is near its densest particle packing, only a minimum additional paste volume is
required to initiate the flowability of fresh concrete, similar to a dilatancy effect. The analysis of
Brouwers and Radix [20 and 21] suggests the use of a model similar to the one by Funk and Dinger
[22], modified Andreasen & Anderson, as preferable.
The procedure to quantify packing in discrete approaches, such as those by Furnas [11 and 12],
and de Larrard [3], follows a similar principle as the Proctor procedure [23], manifested in ASTM D698
/ AASHTO T990 and ASTM D1557 / AASHTO T180 respectively, to determine the void content of
soil. In general, common techniques to study particle packing include compaction through exertion of
(mainly) vertical forces (Fv), which might be applied together with or without a vertical movement (hv),
see for instance de Larrard [3] or EN 1097-4. Sometimes a cyclic energy with frequency (f0) is
applied, where usually the vertical application is favoured through placing the container on a vibration
table. Such procedure might give reasonable results for concrete that is compacted in a similar way,
such as conventional vibrated concrete, but it is questionable whether it provides reasonable result for
mixes that are compacted during the influence of shear stresses, as self-compacting concrete is
during placement. Therefore, a shear force inducing method was chosen to reveal the compactability
of different PSDs.

Compaction [%]



80 G1_B50


0 200 400 600

Figure 1: Measured compaction with gyratory equipment at 420 kPa and varying filler content
F.V. Mueller and O.H. Wallevik

During this work, using a gyratory compaction method, the question was raised whether the
concentration of solids is reliable as packing parameter, since the majority of reports by other authors
reveal smaller concentrations of solids (the data presented here gives higher packing than previous
reported). In the first hand, the particle packing usually obtained for concrete aggregates uses a
different packing method, which may lead to lower concentrations of solids in general, as indeed
indicated by results in Brown [25]. Such lower concentration of solids is also obtained for small
number of gyratory cycles. As second point, the common gradation follows often the Fuller and
Thompson approach due to the higher fluidity (or consistency) that can be reached with such PSD,
not considering blocking behaviour and stability criteria. The initial gradation G1_B0, which is
somehow close to F&T, reveals similar concentrations of solids at small n as commonly reported.
Only the modification of the PSD employed here reveals higher solid concentration. Based on the
effects of single fractions and the fact, that a broader PSD is employed, the concentration of solids
increases already initially. The difference is mainly based on the fact that a broader range of particle
sizes is applied. The more monosized particles a system contains, the more the concentration of
solids is dominated by this system and the higher is the void content. It is shown that the gradation of
solids in low binder SCC, Eco-SCC, could be best described by the modified Andreasen & Andersen
model, using a packing distribution modulus q of about 0.20.

The authors gratefully acknowledges the support of (in alphabetical order): CEMEX Research
Group AG (Switzerland), Icelandic Housing Fund, Landsvirkjun (Iceland), Steypustöðin (Iceland),
Norstone (Norway) and Icelandic Research Foundation RANNIS to the project “Eco-SCC”. In
addition, the colleagues at the ICI, in particular Arnþór Óli Arason, are acknowledged for their
contributions to this part of the project.

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